Update: As of Monday, April 20, the paperback edition of Forgiving Jake is now available to order from Amazon via its American, British, Canadian, and Australian markets.
We are all trying to maintain a version of normality while we stay at home to slow down the spread of COVID-19, a pandemic which has made the world look and feel like some near-future science fiction novel. However, one of the easiest ways to relax and forget the world is to read, and I’m currently splitting my time between a few books for whenever I get a free moment between the day job and home renovations.
Déanfaidh mé sár-iarracht anseo gan aon cliché faoin nGaeltacht – na cinn a fheiceann tú in aon aiste ollscoile – a úsáid anseo. Tá an cás níos práinní agus tábhachtaí chun a leithéid a dhéanamh. In ionad sin, déanfaidh mé iarracht tabhairt faoin bhfadhb agus, más féidir, an réiteach.
Most of us have, at some point in our lives, heard the advice: The three things you should never discuss with people are politics, religion, and money. I’ve often thought that the Irish never got the memo on such a rule, because for a country which almost makes a national sport out of referenda and elections, we often discuss the actions, statements, and flaws of our politicians. We’ve seen debate on whether or not certain manifestations of local or national government should even exist; in Ireland, those debates have recently ranged from having directly-elected city mayors to whether or not we abolish our Seanad. We so often hear dismissive statements in the pub or on the street that politicans are “all the same”; they’re “only interested in lining their pockets” or “getting their cushy pension” and they’re “all a shower of wasters”. The same lines have been exclaimed by frustrated citizens for generations, yet rarely is an alternative to the situation proposed, let alone one agreed upon.
The last week of staying at home, officially Week 7 of self-isolation, was probably the strangest. We were the most used to the ‘new normal’, with our routine of daily walks within two-kilometre limits, weekly grocery trips to Aldi, SuperValu, or the local off-licence. We’d notice – but become accustomed to – the deathly silence on the roads during an evening walk; it would only be around 9 o’clock, but it would feel like 4 in the morning, stumbling home from a night out. The idea of going out for a treat is now a takeaway coffee in the nearby petrol station, and I’ve almost forgotten when Cork city centre looks like, whatever about travelling to the rest of the country.
Ó thús na gluaiseachta Gaelaí, nuair a bhí grúpaí áirithe ag ullmhú agus ag impí ar thacaíocht an phobail ar son an neamhspleáchais, bhí ról cumhachtach ag an teanga, a cuid litríochta ársa agus chomhaimseartha, agus ar mhuintir na Gaeltachta, réigiún a bhí i bhfad níos láidre ná mar atá sí inniu. Bhí cumhacht faoi leith ag an bhfocal “Éire”, go háirithe nuair a chuireadh íomhá Éiru – nó Hibernia – os comhair an phobail mar spéirbhean chróga álainn, í ina siombal náisiúnta. Chuir gluaiseacht athbheochan na Gaeilge neart leis an íomhá finscéalaíoch sin, agus bhí muintir na hÉireann in ann glacadh leis an gcoincheap.
There’s no doubt that the last few weeks have been difficult for everyone, but as I’ve written recently, while there are still major challenges and issues to be dealt with in Ireland, we have also seen a boost in community awareness. We’ve made a conscious effort to care for others again, whether that means checking in on our neighbours, calling our friends, or minding our family.